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What Does a Midwife Do in Germany – And How Can I Find One?

By Lisa H

Last updated on 17 July 2024

In Germany, every pregnant person is entitled to the support of a midwife (Hebamme in German) during pregnancy, birth and in the postpartum period.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What are the different types of midwives?

Midwives can fall in any of the below categories:

1. There are midwives employed by the hospital to attend births. You will work with the midwife(s) that are on shift when you give birth. No action is needed form your part.

2. There are freelance midwives, who cover prenatal and postnatal (Wochenbett and beyond) appointments. If you'd like to have a prenatal and/or postnatal midwife, contact those near you as soon as possible (more on this below.) Usually the same midwife will cover the pre- and postnatal appointments.

3. As an in-between, there are so called “Beleghebammen” (attending midwives), who are self-employed but affiliated with a specific hospital where they attend the birth with the family. They will be on call for you during the last few weeks of your pregnancy and will attend the birth, giving you 1-on-1 midwife care. If you'd like to have a Beleghebamme, contact those near you as soon as possible (more on this below.)

4. Finally, there are midwives offering home births ("Hausgeburtshebammen") and those delivering babies at a birthing center. If you'd like to give birth at home or at a birthing center, look into this as soon as possible (more on this below.)

Why should I get a midwife?

It is not required to have a midwife during the pre-natal or post-natal period. However, many families find it helpful to have a midwife who may provide a different type of care during pregnancy than your OBGYN (more on the difference between OBGYN and midwife in this article).

After your baby is born, your midwife will visit you regularly at home to do check-ups for the mother and baby, and offer advice to the new family.

How do midwives work?

Self-employed midwives work on their own or can be part of a midwife practice.

Besides the prenatal and postnatal care, some midwives also offer classes for the (expecting) parents (such as for birth preparation, post natal recovery or first aid) and for the baby (such as baby massage), etc. They may also be certified to provide acupuncture treatments and similar. You can use the services of several midwives to cover everything you need.

Midwives usually work in a certain radius so they can more easily do home visits postpartum. For your pre-natal appointments, some visit you at home, others will ask you to visit their practice, if they have one.

Midwives usually care for their families until about three months after the baby is born. However, you can use their services up until you stop breastfeeding for such things as taking your first trip with the baby or introducing solids.

Who pays for the midwife?

Your health insurance will cover the prenatal and postnatal midwife appointments as well as a birth preparation course (check about fees for your partner, however).

If you have a “Beleghebamme”, a home birth midwife or plan to give birth at a birthing center, there will be a Rufbereitschaftspauschale (on-call fee), which currently (as of 2023) runs around €800-1200. Many health insurance providers will reimburse a small portion of this fee (usually between €100 and €300 – check with your insurance).

How can I find a midwife?

Unfortunately, it can very hard to find a midwife in Germany 😟 Therefore, you should start contacting midwifes as soon as you know that you are pregnant, do not wait!

It is especially hard to find one around Christmas and the summer holidays, so if you are still planning your pregnancy, keep this in mind. (As a word of encouragement, both of our kids were born in the summer, and we were able to find great midwives both times.)

We have compiled a list of local resources to find a midwife for the following German cities:

If you live elsewhere in Germany, you can use the following (mostly free) services to find a midwife:

  • Hebammensuche.de

    • Provides an overview of available midwives in your area

    • You can filter by the type of services you need as well as languages

    • Based on your due date, a list of midwives with capacities are listed

    • You can contact as many of them as you like via email or phone

    • The platform is only available in German

  • Ammely

    • “The largest midwife-platform in Germany, a cooperation with the German Midwives' Association”

    • Provides an overview of available midwives in your area

    • You can send up to 5 requests via the system – if a midwife declines your request, you can send a new one

    • Available in English and German

    • For continuous care as well as one-off appointments, also via video

    • Also for courses

    • You can filter by the type of services you need as well as languages

    • Unfortunately, no details or bio is provided for the midwives

  • Midiaid

    • Shows midwives with potential capacity matching your search criteria

    • You can send one message for free or upgrade to access more features (from €19.95)

    • You can also have your details entered into a search list so midwives can contact you if they have availability

    • Available in German and English

  • GKV Spitzenverband: Hebammenliste

    • List of midwives searchable by post code

    • No availability listed

    • Available in German only

  • Do a Google search for midwifes and midwife practices in your neighborhood

  • Ask your chosen hospital for a list of postpartum (Wochenbett) midwives

If a midwife has availability, you’ll make an appointment to get to know each other. You may click right away, or you may find that it’s not a good fit.

I know it may seem scary to decide to continue looking but do think about whether you feel comfortable with them and whether you can imagine having them in your home in those first vulnerable days and weeks after giving birth.

Or, perhaps you decide not to work with a midwife at all, and that is ok also!

What if I still can't find a midwife or if I don't have German health insurance?

For both of the above mentioned scenarios, you can check out the platform call a midwife, where you can find online support from a qualified midwife in eight different languages. If you have German health insurance, this service is paid for by your public health insurance.

If you don't have German health insurance, you can book a 7-day package for €99.90. You can learn more about call a midwife in this interview with midwife and founder Sabine.

Additionally, some midwife practices, family centers, hospitals and OBGYNs offer a drop-in clinic for those families that do not have a "personal" midwife (see this Google search for "Wochenbettsprechstunde Berlin").

Finally, if you can’t find a midwife and want to alert the authorities about the insufficient number of midwives, you can add your details to this list.

We wish you all the best on this special journey and good luck finding a midwife if you choose to do so!

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